Vatican refuses ambassadors for being gay or divorced

The Roman Catholic Church has a wide range of teachings on social issues, and recently there have been signals that sexuality issues has taken a disproportional place in the public sphere.

France has tried twice to appoint an ambassador to the Vatican but failed when one candidate was divorced and another a partnered gay man. Reuters reports:

For a country keen to improve relations with the Vatican, France has made some surprising faux pas this year. Things have been going well on the surface. President Nicolas Sarkozy has sung the praises of religion in public life several times this year. Pope Benedict was warmly welcomed during his visit to Paris last month. But behind the scenes, Paris has apparently flubbed what should be a routine procedure — naming a new ambassador to the Holy See.

The Foreign Ministry refuses to comment on ambassadorial nominations until they are accepted by the country involved. But with the post open for an unusually long period of 10 months, newspapers in Paris and Rome have begun writing about the delay. Even the Paris Catholic daily La Croix got into the story today. It seems Paris has been rebuffed twice for proposing a gay candidate and a divorced one. The Argentinians could have told Paris to play safe with a solid family man.

Meanwhile, with the news that some bishops saying they would refuse communion to Democratic vice-presidential candidate Joe Biden for his pro-choice voting record, there is concern that Vatican may have difficulty working with if Barack Obama should he become president.

Douglas Kmeic told National Catholic Reporter that the Catholic voter should look at the broad spectrum of Catholic teaching when choosing a candidate:

Kmiec, a law professor at Pepperdine, is author of Can a Catholic Support Him? Asking the Big Question about Barack Obama, in which he argues that the pro-life teachings of the church can be reconciled with voting for Obama despite the Democratic candidate’s pro-choice stance. Kmiec spoke this morning to reporters in a conference called organized by the “Matthew 25 Network,” a coalition of Christian groups that has endorsed Obama.

Relations with the United States are a diplomatic priority in the Vatican, and some analysts have speculated that an Obama victory would create new tensions between Rome and Washington because of differences over the “life issues,” above all abortion. Kmiec, however, offered a different forecast.

“An Obama presidency would open the door to what is frequently called the best-kept secret of the Catholic church, which is the balance of its social teaching,” Kmiec said. He argued that many of the Vatican’s social concerns are broadly congruent with the likely priorities of an Obama administration, including health care, a living wage, economic policies that promote the well-being of families, and environmental protection.

Kmiec also pointed to a broad meeting of minds between Obama and the Vatican over the war in Iraq.

“The mindset that took us to war is not his,” Kmiec said. “He believes that our greatest strength as a country comes not just from military defense but international diplomacy, for the kind of understanding which the Vatican has repeatedly asked America to have of other cultures and other religions.”

For those reasons, Kmiec predicted, “relations between Benedict XVI and the Holy See under an Obama administration would be very, very positive.”

Reuters: Gays and divorced need not apply as ambassador to Vatican

National Catholic Reporter: Pro-Obama Catholic predicts ‘very positive’ ties with Vatican

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